Don’t Tell Comedy has a lot to say about the place where you live
By Christina Campodonico
People go to a comedy show for a good laugh, but a night out at one of L.A.’s more established clubs could make your wallet cry.
“I just noticed how expensive the comedy club scene is. When you go to a show, you typically pay $20 for a ticket and on top of that you’re required to purchase two drinks. That’s just very unaffordable, in my opinion, for a lot of young people who are on a budget,” says Kyle KA, a comedian with a cryptic stage name who decided to turn his pocket-book woes into a creative and slightly secretive concept.
About four months ago he teamed up with fellow L.A. comedian Sean Leary, American Ninja Warrior digital host Alex Weber and graphic designer Sierra LaFrance to start Don’t Tell Comedy. It’s a semi-secret pop-up comedy show that roves around L.A. commandeering living rooms, backyards and other unconventional spots as performance spaces for established and up-and-coming comics to try out new material. The location of the show remains secret until the day before, and the lineup is a mystery until show time.
KA admits that it’s an illogical publicity strategy, but so far it’s worked.
“We’re kind of being ironic about the whole ‘Don’t Tell’ thing,” he says. “It’s so counterintuitive that when you don’t tell people where the show is and you don’t tell them who’s performing, all of sudden people are very excited to show up.”
When I arrive on time for a Don’t Tell Comedy show on June 17 in Venice, the parking lot behind an apartment complex on Vernon Avenue is already packed — standing room only for mostly twenty- and thirtysomethings drinking from red Solo cups (every show is BYOB).
This isn’t the Laugh Factory: the ambiance is similar to a laidback house party or backyard BBQ, and interested neighbors peer down from above. But the talent is top-notch.
Weber bemoans the pitfalls of online dating and Ivy League lacrosse. Former “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” correspondent Kira Soltanovich riffs on the highs and lows of pregnancy and childbirth. And Venice Underground Comedy co-founder Bronston Jones throws some zingers at the crowd of mostly young urban creative professionals — you know, the type who tend to gentrify neighborhoods — saying that you’re not a local unless you went to Venice High … for five years. (Ba-Dum-Tssh!) Being high in Venice for five years doesn’t count.
Leary also pokes fun at a well-dressed guy in the front row.
“This is the Wolf of the Venice Canals,” he says, referencing the “The Wolf of Wall Street” and its despicably wealthy protagonist. “I feel like you invented an app.”
“I work at a startup,” Leary’s target sheepishly admits.
KA says that drawing on local humor is an organic part of the Don’t Tell Comedy experience.
“I think it’s sort of a natural thing that comedians who are seasoned will do. And that’s what I like about our shows: They’re making local references and talking about each particular neighborhood where we have a show,” he says. “We’re bringing the comedyto them, instead of them having to drive to the comedy.”
The next Don’t Tell Comedy event happens on Saturday, July 1, at a secret location in Venice. Tickets are $12 (bring a chair or blanket) or $20 for a reserved seat. Sign up at dontellcomedy.com.